Working Paper
Intervention, Aid, and Institution-Building in Iraq and Afghanistan

a Review and Critique of Comparative Lessons

Since 2001 international attention has focused on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and specifically on the question of whether external intervention can assist weak or fragile states in successfully making the transition to stable democracies. Despite their differences, Iraq and Afghanistan are often considered together in analyses of state-building, and multiple observers have explored the lessons of one for the other. Yet Iraq and Afghanistan are not the first cases of US military intervention and occupation for the purposes of transforming a foreign regime. This paper provides a review and critique of the literature on why some of these interventions were more successful than others in building robust and effective state institutions.